MSP Joan McAlpine has branded the public consultation process of the Post Office modernisation programme a ‘sham’ after learning that staff at a proposed new location for Eastriggs Post Office were invited to attend post office training and counters were being measured for fitting while the public consultation taking place.
The proposed relocation of Eastriggs Post Office, from a fully accessible stand-alone shop to a counter within the village’s Spar store, has been fiercely opposed by local people. More than 80 attended a highly charged public meeting two weeks ago to quiz Post Office representatives on the plans. The public consultation, which purported to seek community feedback before final decisions are made, didn’t end until 29th January.
Following the meeting Joan McAlpine wrote to Post Office Ltd demanding that they come clean about whether firm decisions about the relocation had already been made. She reiterated those demands in her own submission to the consultation last week and she will be meeting with post services consumer watchdog Citizens Advice to discuss the matter further.
Ms McAlpine said:
“Members of the community have told me that while the public consultation was active the new Post Office counter was being measured up and staff at Eastriggs Spar were booked in for Post Office training in Glasgow in April.
“This makes a mockery of the entire process and suggests the whole public consultation is a sham.
“For the Post Office to be measuring for counters and booking training for staff while the public consultation was ongoing, particularly when there is so much opposition to the move within the community, shows the Post Office has been grossly negligent in fulfilling their responsibilities to engage directly with the people affected by these proposed changes.”
Ms McAlpine will meet with the Consumer Futures Division team at Citizens Advice this week to highlight the key issues affecting the proposed relocation of Eastriggs Post Office. In particular she will highlight the potential impact on vulnerable members of the community.
Ms McAlpine added: “The Consumer Futures Division at Citizens Advice claim a 60% success rate in securing changes to post office modernisation plans, so I’m delighted that they are taking an interest in the proposals for Eastriggs Post Office. It is essential that our local communities have a strong voice and that their concerns are listened to.”
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